In a development which is unlikely to generate significant gasps of horror across Northern Ireland, Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy were yesterday awarded their places on the official shortlist for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
Six different sports are represented in the impressive ‘top 10’ but the golfing buddies have a chance of keeping the prize in Ulster after jockey Tony McCoy rode off into the sunset with the trophy a year ago.
The race to be crowned the 58th BBC Sports Personality of the Year is certainly gathering pace with the winner being selected by public vote during the live show on Thursday, December 22.
Clarke and McIlroy are joined in the shortlist by Mark Cavendish (cycling), Alastair Cook (cricket), Luke Donald (golf), Mo Farah (athletics), Dai Greene (athletics), Amir Khan (boxing), Andy Murray (tennis) and Andrew Strauss (cricket).
The shortlist of 10 contenders was put together by a panel of sports editors from national and regional newspapers and magazines. There are no footballers or women on the shortlist.
Dungannon man Clarke rolled back the years in the wind and the rain at Royal St George’s by claiming the Open Championship title with a score of five-under par.
It was the 43-year-old’s maiden major title and his success was even sweeter as he lifted the famous Claret Jug on his 20th attempt.
McIlroy enjoyed a memorable 2011 by bringing home his first major title with a record breaking eight-shot victory at the US Open.
It came only months after he nearly won the US Masters, where he led for three rounds.
Presented by Sue Barker, Gary Lineker and Jake Humphrey, the show will broadcast live on BBC One from MediaCityUK, Salford, with some of the biggest names in world sport expected to attend.
In addition to the main award of Sports Personality of the Year there will also be awards for Team of the Year, Coach of the Year, Overseas Sports Personality of the Year, Young Sports Personality of the Year, Lifetime Achievement, the Helen Rollason Award and Sport Unsung Hero.
Asked about the absence of women amongst the nominees Lineker said: “Don't blame me, I don't vote! It perhaps has not been as strong a year for women but I'm sure that will change next year with the Olympics with the likes of Jess Ennis and Rebecca Adlington.
“There are no footballers, there has not been a big tournament this year, and the rugby players have not had a good year.”